In the heart of fear and pain, God plants the seed of our joy.
Lent can be a somber season of the church year. It begins with an ashen sign of mortality and sin. Bright colors turn to deep purples, alleluias fall silent, and worshipers ponder what to give up this year. Though the word Lent derives from an Old English word for springtime, spring still seems far off in much of the Northern Hemisphere. Easter, on the other hand, is obviously joyful. Bells ring, alleluias echo, white and gold shine brightly, and every single candle is lit. Jesus is risen, and so are the daffodils, hyacinths, and lilies. Joy clearly belongs to Easter.
Why reflect on joy during the quiet introspection of Lent instead of waiting for Easter? Move beyond surface assumptions and something beautiful emerges, richer and more nuanced than sheer happiness. A joyful Lent is not an oxymoron. As it turns out, joy is right at home during a minor-key season like Lent – and if joy is there, perhaps there are other seasons of life that joy calls home, too. Joy is a beacon that points us toward God’s unfailing presence, even in the heart of fear and pain.
What is joy, anyway? We probably know it when we find it, but maybe we’ve missed some of its subtleties. Sometimes it’s an emotion, sometimes a conviction, sometimes a practice; sometimes it seems far off, simply a promise. Joy can shout or it can hum quietly. It reveals itself in layers, adapting to different life circumstances. It even mixes with other experiences, like hope, sorrow, confusion, peace, or pain. The complexity of joy reflects the complexity and beauty of God.
The Seed of Joy: Basics © 2023 Barn Geese Worship. Used by permission.
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